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Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Travel to Beat the Winter Blahs

Living in Portland has a lot of perks, but one of the drawbacks is that winter can be really bleak. It's not usually bothersome to me, but I know a lot of people who have intense SAD (seasonal affective disorder). This month, I think it's finally caught up to me, because we have very short days full of rain and most of them are super cloudy, and then we have 12-13 hours of nighttime. I'm feeling pretty off on everything and want to just hide in my own bubble and ignore people, and I'm sleeping really badly, which is not a problem I normally have. 

If you're also experiencing SAD, or just the feeling blah in general from the craze of the holidays and then the let-down of the new year, let's talk about how we can combat that: 

Plan a trip

You don't actually need to go on a vacation, especially if you just came back from one, but actively planning for something good can really get you out of a funk. It's been proven that even the act of planning trip can lift your mood, almost as much as actually taking the trip itself. 

I have been looking at things to do and places to eat in New Orleans for my short visit in March for the Travel Goods Show. It's giving me joy in the moments of blerg during this month, since I have something to look forward to. I'm also in the act of slowly packing my bag. I'm not taking much, but buying a few new things is also giving me an emotional lift. In the fall I bought some spring shoes on clearance for future trips, so those are going in as well. And yesterday I parsed out my toiletry bag, so I know I'm not taking things I don't need. 

Stay tuned for a packing light post for spring.

Go explore your town

Just get outside. Even if the weather sucks, taking a day trip or just being a tourist in your own town. As much as I just want to stay inside and listen to podcasts or watch movies, it's not really too productive, so I know I should go out and get fresh air and see people. I planned a group brunch this past weekend and, as much as I didn't want to go, I knew seeing and interacting with people would be good for me, and I was right. 

Force yourself out, take some pictures of cool things, play some games, meet some friends. You'll find you feel less depressed, if only for a little while. It's better than nothing and wallowing at home by yourself and/or being cranky with your family.

Throw a party

We throw quite a few parties, and this year we decided to do more themes, but also try to save more money. Because we can't travel all the time, we came up with a happy medium. We threw our first "destination potluck", where we chose a travel destination and asked our guests to bring dishes from that region. I did a bit of decorating, but nothing crazy like I would normally. It gave us all a break from reality and that excitement of trying new foods when you travel. It was enough to give us the incentive to throw more. 

Hit up the salt room

It's been a while since I suggested this. We aren't all close to the beach, and wintertime isn't a great time to visit anyway. The salt room gives you the same benefits, but you won't have to wear 9 layers of clothes and get wet sand in your shoes. In fact, an hour in the salt room is equivalent to 3 days at the beach, plus the salt-ionized air can help keep you healthy, which is also important in this time where it seems like every third person has the flu or some other nasty sickness.

That's what I got for you. Try to survive the gross seasons of winter and sickness. Eat your veggies, get your vitamins, keep your spirits up, and get excited about future vacations.

How do you beat the winter blahs or your SADness?

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Avoiding the Flu While Traveling

We're deep in flu season and this year is much worse than usual. Not only that, but now there's the new Coronavirus coming out of China, too, which is even worse than the flu. I used to get sick any time I went on vacation, but I've since learned how to stay healthy on all my trips, including while flying. If you're worried about getting ill and ruining your whole vacation, you probably need some of these tips:

How to avoid getting sick while traveling

Bring antibacterial gel

Purell is a staple of my travel bag. A lot of airplane water tanks are dirty and full of bacteria, because they're super hard and annoying to clean. Because of that, avoid drinking water from the drink cart unless you get your own unopened bottle, and also don't wash your hands in the bathroom sink, as they come from the same tanks and you'd just be adding extra bacteria on top of bacteria. Just thoroughly coat your hands in gel, or use antibacterial wipes.

Wash your hands often

I know I just said that you shouldn't wash your hands in the airplane bathroom, but make sure everywhere else you go, you wash your hands as much as possible. This will help with any gross germs you pick up from places where people have just touched or coughed on surfaces. 

Don't touch your face

People touch their faces an average of three times an hour, which means if you haven't washed your hands or used Purell, there's a good chance those germs on your hands are getting in your nose, eyes or mouth. Gross, right? Try to consciously keep your hands from your face, especially on the plane. 

Wear a mask

This is another way to keep from touching your face, and also from keeping germs out of your nose and mouth. You can wear a regular medical mask (just make sure it's the right kind and you're wearing it correctly and you dispose of it properly). I, personally, like something a little more fun, and I highly recommend the winged mask from The Barrier Method (or a gaiter neck mask for men or those that like something less fussy. I'll be wearing mine on my trip to New Orleans, and will be purchasing one for Eric for our next trip in the fall.

Drink a ton of water

I bring along a reusable water bottle, mostly because we drink a lot of water when we travel, but also because buying a bunch of bottles is not economical and it's not environmentally-friendly. Once we arrive at the airport, I buy a cold water to fill up, and then when we get to our destination, we usually purchase a big gallon of water to put in the fridge, so we don't have to drink tap water and we have a good supply of clean water. My reusable bottle is a thermos and keeps our drinks hot or cold, so you aren't drinking awful lukewarm water in the middle of the day.

I also love to order a tomato juice while flying, because the altitude takes away some of the wonky flavor and it's also packed with vitamins, which are nice to have while flying.

This is all veggies (and rice)

Eat your veggies

When you travel, it can be hard to eat well, especially if you're eating out a majority of the time. I always make sure to get my allotment of fruits and vegetables, so I'm not losing nutrients that I desperately need, especially when I'm doing more activity than normal. I try to actually order extra veggies (that aren't deep fried) at least a few times when I'm out, or I get a good stash of fruits for breakfasts from the farmers' market or a nearby grocery store when we arrive. 

Take extra vitamins

With all the new foods and extra activity you're going to be faced with, it's easy to get a little lax with your health, so pack a box of immunity tabs, chewable tablets, or Emergen-C. I make sure we take one in the morning and one in the evening.

Get enough sleep

When I don't get enough sleep, I can be cranky and uncool. Nobody wants to be around me. In fact, *I* don't want to be around me. I make sure I give myself some downtime on my trips, because being go go go all the time is exhausting, and packing my days means I don't get to sleep as much as I need. A good night of sleep can do a world of good, plus you wake up feeling refreshed, plus you don't get sick from not allowing your body to recharge.

If you have problems sleeping, look for something that helps you drift on or stay asleep. A few of my favorite ways to do this is an herbal sleep spray, an all-natural sleep aid, a great eye mask and/or a good pair of ear plugs

Avoid excess alcohol

I love a tasty drink as much as the next person, but I try to limit my booze intake while traveling and I definitely avoid it while flying to keep from getting dehydrating. I may have a drink with dinner or while out at happy hour, but I also try not to drink much before it's time for bed, because it doesn't help me sleep better. In fact, I sleep really badly when I drink too much. You know your body better than anyone, so you can make sure you stay within your limits.

Staying healthy while you travel can really help you make the most of the time you have and avoid being miserable while trying to have a good time sightseeing. When you've got limited time in a place, you don't want to feel like you wasted money to go there. 

Do you have a favorite way to stay healthy on vacation?

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. I will receive monetary compensation for any items purchased through these links, and I'll also be super grateful for your support.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Destination Potlucks Are a Thing Now

I love traveling, but even I can't travel all the time. First of all, I don't want to, and second of all, I don't have the money to do that. I have a lot of friends who like to get together for random things, and who also love to travel, but don't have money to do more than a trip or two every year. So, I came up with something to satisfy our cravings: Destination potlucks.

Destination potlucks to fill in travel lulls

This last weekend, we held our first one. The concept is simple. You choose a region or  country and everyone brings beverages, entrees, sides or desserts from that place. Our first potluck covered Scandinavia, so we included Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Norway and Iceland. Several of our friends brought more than one dish, and I made two as well as a beverage. 

Sorry for the terrible lighting on this video

In addition to food, I did a tiny bit of research and made up fun facts handouts, a map along with travel tips, and dressed up my Snape stand-up with a Scandinavian folk hat that I made out of heavy duty paper and ribbons, as well as giving my large "portrait" with a traditional holiday headdress, along with the history of it. I felt it only made sense if we learned things as well as made some cool dishes that we may or may not like. 

Here's a list of some of the dishes we had:
  • Kalpudding - a Swedish meatloaf and cabbage dish that was pretty easy make and also pretty tasty. 
  • Cucumber salad - I make this regularly, except without the tons of dill it calls for, so I was pretty confident in this dish.
  • Saft - A drink where you basically make your own fruit concentrate and then mix with sparkling water.
  • Kantareller og Geitost - A lovely dish made with chanterelle mushrooms and goat cheese that you can serve on crostini.
  • Ovnbagte aebler med log - Roasted onions and apples that are sliced and use lemon and elderflower. This is creamy and an awesome side.
  • Salmon chowder - If you like a hearty soup, this is fantastic.
  • Aebleskivers - I've made these little round doughnuts before, but I don't have a pan to make them now. My friend made three different kinds.
  • Kroppkakor - Potato dumplings with bacon and onion in the middle, which can be served with jam or gravy. Either way, they are yummy, and easily a main all by themselves.
  • Krumkaker - A cool cone-shaped thin waffle that can be filled with whipped cream and topped with candy, fruit, and/or sprinkles.
We had several other things, including a cheesecake dessert, candies, and drinks, and this was with just a dozen people. Everything was very filling, so I would suggest fasting a bit if you go with this region. So many carbs, but also so very delicious. 

a better view of Snape's folk hat :)

Everyone was so into this theme and can't wait until our next one. We haven't chosen a region yet, but we're leaning towards British/UK foods, so we can include Scottish and Irish foods as well as Indian (because there is a huge population in London and the official dish is chicken tikka masala). That way we can also ease into more ethnic foods for future potlucks. I'd also love to include some regional games and possibly have others bring 3 facts they thought were interesting from our destination.

Have you ever had a destination party of any kind? Share, so we can all have more ideas!

Saturday, January 18, 2020

5 Ways to Save Money On ALL Your Trips

Budget travel isn't always easy. Travel is expensive and you can't always stay within a budget you want to stay in, unless you really compromise, but we all know this. Luckily, there are ways you can save that are easy and you can do all the time. Here are five of my favorite ways to save money on every single trip I take:

5 ways to save money on all your trips

Travel in the off-season

Sure, everyone wants to travel in the summer, because the kids are out of school and the weather is nice, but this is also true other places. This means that attractions are open longer, but also there are way more tourists and long lines and higher prices. Shift your travel to the off-season, or at least shoulder season, to save up to half off hotels and airfare, plus save your time by not having to wait in giant queues everywhere you go. Do your research ahead of time to find out when peak season is and avoid that like the plague.

Eat local

I am the first one who wants to go out to eat when I travel, but not everything has to be fancy restaurants. In fact, you don't have to eat in a restaurant at all. I'm not suggesting fast food joints, because no. I pick at least one restaurant I want to eat at a day and then I fill in my meals with places that locals have suggested to me (because they don't make commission from their suggestions and tell you to go to places they truly love), food carts, and foods from the grocery and farmers' markets.

Take public transportation

Most cities have great public transportation, and since you aren't on any sort of schedule, getting places isn't a thing where you have to be there at a particular time (usually), so skip the expensive cabs, ubers and car rentals and take the bus, subway, or even just walk. Both of these options are cheap or free and are even a better way to see your destination, because you get off the main path. 

Look for promo codes and coupons

Attractions and activities can be expensive. I make sure I exhaust all options researching for promo codes and coupons for things I absolutely don't want to miss. A lot of times if you book online, you can get a better deal than gate price, even if it's just a few dollars. If you can't find any deals, hit up a nearby hotel lobby to see if they have coupons. We were able to save a lot of money at a great restaurant in Philly this way. 

Do the free stuff

You'll be surprised by how much free stuff you can see/do in a city if you look for it. Museums with free admission, parks with lots of sculptures and other artwork, building murals, free city tours. We've done all those things and more. 90% of the time it's really fun and something you wouldn't have done if you didn't actually look for it. Look online before you leave and don't forget to ask around when you arrive. 

So, while budget travel may be more work than just booking a trip blindly and then complaining about the prices of everything and then never going on vacation again, it's definitely worth it, and it makes your hard work that much more appreciated.

What are your favorite easy ways to save on travel?

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

48 Hours of Fun On a Budget in New Orleans

In this blog series I show you how easy it is to budget travel anywhere and I also give you a quick overview of a new city each time in a brief 48-hour itinerary.

Hey guys! I'm back with a new post. I know I've been absent for a bit, but I've been sick and trying to catch up with things and motivate myself for the new year. With that, I've decided to bring back this series that I love, with the help of some friends and their suggestions for cities. If you have any suggestions as well, please drop it in the comments. 

how to spend 2 days in new orleans

In March, I'll be back in New Orleans for the Travel Goods Show, so I thought you might like to see how I would spend 48 hours there. As always, we will assume you're starting a new day, having flown in (or driven in) the night before and you've already found a fantastic place to stay. Luckily, New Orleans is very walkable, and has a great public transportation system, so you don't need a car. Clearly, you won't have time for something that is time consuming, like a plantation tour, as they are all far out of the city.

Day 1

Assuming you want to be where all the action is, we'll start our day in the French Quarter and a quick breakfast at Cafe Beignet. Cafe du Monde is quite popular, but also always has a really long line. Cafe Beignet is just as good, but also has food other than beignets, so you could grab a muffaletta sandwich or similar if doughnuts and coffee aren't substantial enough for you. Two could eat for $20, or less if beignets and coffee are fine for breakfast.

After you've eaten, walk to the Pharmacy Museum. This is the oldest apothecary in the country and is three floors of pharmacy history, including original medicines and medical instruments. It's one of the best things we visited while we were there, and if you're interested in history of any kind, this is a must. Admission is $5pp. 

Take the streetcar down to Lafeyette Cemetery No. 1 for a self-guided (and free) tour of the tombs. This is in the Garden District and a lovely ride. There are almost 500 vaults here, one of which is for the Mayfair Witches, created by Anne Rice, over 1,000 family tombs, and it's home to over 7,000 people. It covers one city block and is the oldest cemetery in the city. You could book a tour, but if you're going to spend money on a cemetery tour, save it for St. Louis. Here's a great self-guided tour. A day pass on the cable car will set you back $3pp.

Now that you've walked a bunch and worked up an appetite, you'll want to go back out and across the street to Commander's Palace. This is one of the more expensive restaurants in the city, but well worth it for traditional foods, like turtle soup, in a gorgeous historic mansion. It's been a landmark, serving award-winning dishes, since the late 1800s. A 3-course lunch will run you $39 + tip, so we'll call it $100 for two. You should make a reservation and also adhere to their dress code. 

<<I was still unable to get a reservation on my last trip, so I searched around for a place that had things I wanted to try from the CP menu and made a reservation for one that had availability when we could go. We visited Tableau, which had an excellent menu, lower prices, and a very chill & sunny outdoor courtyard. Lunch for 2 of us, without tip, was just about $50.>>

If you want to walk off some of your lunch calories, take a nice wander through the Garden District and check out some of the cool architecture and possibly walk or take the street car up to Audubon Park to take in some wonderful quiet and see some lovely plants and animals. There's a great big lake in the middle, which can make a for a nice walk around. Totally free, though I would advise you to bring a water bottle with you, especially if it's hot outside.

Afterward, hit up District Donuts for some really amazing combinations. You can take them to go for later or indulge in an affordable dinner here. They have awesome fried chicken sliders and Vietnamese coffee, but you can also get regular things here too, like burgers. District can get pretty popular, so don't be alarmed if you see a line. A lot of people go to order a box of doughnuts and take them home. You can also order online and get District offerings delivered to you. Plan for about $25 for two people.

Take the streetcar back and take in some live music on Bourbon Street or down on Frenchman Street if you like a more arty vibe. Whatever you spend on drinks.

Head to bed to rest your feet (and the rest of your body) for tomorrow.

Day 2

Want to try all the delicious creole food and then some?  Book a table at The Court of Two Sisters where you dine inside or outside while enjoying a massive brunch buffet and live jazz. We greatly enjoyed our meal with all the choices and the atmosphere. The staff are all very formal, making you feel fancy. It can make for a romantic dining experience. $35pp + gratuity, so we'll call it $90 for two.

Walk to Jackson Square, which is full of local artists, people milling about, fun shops, palm readers, and little fronts, like Faulkner Books. You can also visit a local lamp maker down one of the mini side alleys. You can watch him shape the wrought iron and also ask questions. If you love hot sauce, make sure to duck into one of the hot sauce "bars" to try some free samples and possibly find a new favorite. We shipped home a bunch for family gifts. Free, unless you make some purchases while exploring.

Take a walk along the waterfront and enjoy the view of the Mississippi River and statues and artwork along the trail. Less than 2 miles away from Jackson Square is Mardi Gras World, the place where every float for Mardi Gras is made and stored. The tour is guided, teaching you about the different way the floats are made, about the krewes, the history of Mardi Gras, and taking you through to see artists creating pieces for the floats for the next year's event. After your tour, it lasts about an hour, they turn you loose so you can peruse old props at your leisure. I would suggest booking tickets online, as you won't have to wait for a tour that isn't full. Tickets are $22pp, but you may be able to get a deal through Groupon, so you save a bit. 

Head to the French Market, where you can find souvenirs, along with locally made goods and foods. If the weather is nice, this is a great place to grab an affordable lunch. If you've been longing to actually hit up Cafe du Monde, this is your chance. I anticipate a decent entree for two people will run you around $25-30. 

Voodoo is an important part of Nola history, and if you're into learning more about it, I highly recommend hitting up the tiny, but informative Voodoo Museum. It's a short walk from the market and worth the visit (unless you're claustrophobic or low-lit places creep you out). There's so much packed into this place, you're easily caught up in the displays. Admission is $6pp.

If you haven't walked yourself to death by now, taking a walking tour should definitely be on your list. We took two, but the nighttime haunted tour had cool stories and took you all over the French Quarter. We went through Witches Brew Tours and were able to go for half-price because we, again, had a Groupon. Regular price is $25pp. 

You're probably ready for dinner now. If you would like to indulge in some local seafood, Oceana Grill was one of the best places we ate. We split an entree and an appetizer and were full, but they serve a wide array of dishes here, plus they're open late. Best crab cakes ever. I'd estimate $50 for two for dinner, less if you split something or visit during happy hour.

If you want to really cap off your Nola trip, walk down to Carousel Bar for a delicious specialty drink, where the bar is an actual carousel that spins. Drinks average $12-14, so add $30 for two beverages and tip.

If you have time in your schedule, I highly recommend hitting up The Sazarac House. It's free, though requires a reservation, takes you through the history of cocktails, with an emphasis on the Sazarac, in New Orleans and you get 3 drink samples. Click on that link above to see more and pics from my visit. The tour, and depending on how long you linger in the shop, takes about an hour.

New Orleans can be as relaxing or as packed and exciting as you want it to be. The city is so vibrant and cool, with little interesting alleyways everywhere you look, and colorful historic buildings/houses that make you feel like you've stepped back in time. You'll find many of the sidewalks broken and bulging, due to the old oak trees that can be several hundred years old. Their roots grow out of the ground and are strong enough to break up the cement. Bring excellent walking shoes, as some of your city walking will still be like hiking when navigating these sidewalks.

If you follow this itinerary, your food and activities will cost two people approximately $437. If you can find any deals on Groupon, this will save you a good chunk as well. We didn't have good luck with Groupon for restaurants. None of the places we had deals for were any good. I'd rather save money elsewhere and enjoy delicious food. Obviously, there are other places that are cheaper than those I've suggested, but I haven't eaten there. Make sure to check reviews when looking for places to eat.

If you've been to New Orleans, what were your favorite things to do, see, and eat? If you haven't been, what do you really want to see?

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

How to Gain Free Entry to National Parks for Free in 2020

The National Park Service is a national treasure, especially if you're a person who loves to get outdoors and hike, take pictures, get some fresh air, or just see some nature. If you're traveling or hoping to get outside for Spring Break and you're near a National Park (which most people are or can easily drive to), this is the time to see some of America's most beautiful scenery, along with amazing plants and native animals. For a whole week, you can get in to all National Parks free of charge. 

Use this week as a budget-friendly way to see some nature, get some exercise, and maybe even educate yourself or your kiddos by visiting famous landmarks or historical site. Pack a picnic or even pack up your car for a few days away to make the most of your free time. 

Some things you could do:
  • Find a park
  • April 18: Today is National Junior Ranger Day! Get the kids involved in the Junior Ranger program. This free program allows them to learn through fun programs, games and exploration. When they finish the assignment at each park they visit, they get a special badge. 
  • April 19: Volunteer Day! Make your local park (or one you're visiting near) a better place by volunteering for things they need, like clean-up, because you're awesome and you love to give back.
  • April 20: Military Monday! Did you know that you can get a free Parks pass by using your military ID? That's cool, right? Even if you aren't a member of the military, you can show up and show your appreciation for those that dedicate themselves to our country.
  • April 21: Transportation Tuesday! Learn about past, present, and future transportation getting visitors to parks.
  • April 22: Today is Earth Day! Show your appreciation for Mother Nature and a free outing by getting involved in clean-up programs and other activities. 
  • April 23: Throwback Thursday! Explore the history preserved in national parks while also learning about the ongoing efforts of the National Park Service and partners to preserve America's cultural treasures in communities across the country.
  • April 24: Friendship Friday! Join an Instagram meet-up and make some new outdoorsy friends to take pics with and post to inspire others to also get outside and pay a visit to a National Park near them.
  • April 25: Park Rx Day! Learn how to get healthier and get moving when parks hosts fun activities to promote physical and mental health.
  • April 26: Bark Ranger Day! Bring your pup(s) to the park and then learn more about the dogs that actually work in the parks. So many puppies!
Bryce Canyon

If camping is something you love, you can definitely find one where you can pitch your tent. if you are into birdwatching, get your binoculars out and find the best park for that. If you want to learn how people farmed and harvested in the old days, you can find a park to learn about that, too! Use the Find a Park page to search by activity or by where you are. Not sure which park is the best for you? Check out Budget Travel's post about finding just that!

Now, go pack a weekender bag with some sunscreen, walking shoes, your camera, and a couple changes of underwear and get out there and see the cool stuff our nation has on display for absolutely nothing.

If you can't get time to visit during National Park Week, you can also get free admission to parks on these dates:

  • January 20: Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
  • August 25: National Park Service Birthday
  • September 26: National Public Lands Day
  • November 11: Veterans Day

Where will you be headed for National Park Week?

Saturday, January 4, 2020

Looking Ahead to Spring Break

Now that the holidays are over, it's time to start thinking about your travel plans for 2020. I know a ton of people will be doing a spring break getaway, which can be expensive if you aren't prepared. Most people will be driving, but the skies will also be busy.

breaking down spring break for travelers and more

Bring a back-up pair of sunglasses, double-check you brought your phone charger (and battery back-up), make sure your passport and ID are valid and have a great time, because it's good for you!. 

I'll be traveling before Spring Break, but where's everyone else going?

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

2020 Is Here

It's here! 2020 has arrived and we still don't have flying cars or transporter tubes or bullet trains in America. Bummer, right? Well, yes and no. We have so many options to for new destinations and getting there and saving money in the process, so I guess it helps take the sting out of not being able to get into a 52 car pile-up in the sky (because that would totally happen every. single. day.) 

I found 2019 to be a lot better than most people I know. I went to Las Vegas twice, got to go to Scotland and England, immersed myself in a lot of magic, made some new friends, met up with old friends, and survived staying in an Airbnb with family for a week. 

One of my biggest highlights from my 2019 travel was going falconing
and meeting Archie, who likes cuddles and selfies.

This year is on course to be amazing too, despite not going anywhere new for me, which also gives me some low travel expectation, meaning chance for disappointment is at an all time low. We won't be going out of the country, but that's okay, because here's what's definitely happening:

In March my mom and I will be headed to New Orleans for the 2020 Travel Goods Show. We'll be there for 4-5 days to explore the city and its food (that's more for me). I'll get to take my mom to see things that I thought was cool when we were there and hopefully see more of City Park if we have time. I want to take a ton more pics of Bourbon Street and the French Quarter, which will be easy, since we'll be staying in the Quarter. 

In July Eric and I will head back to Vegas for NBA Summer League. I have big plans to meet up with a friend or two, to hit up some new coffee shops, check out a couple places that have been on my list up to this point, ride the Monorail a lot, and eat a bunch of great food. My two goals are to eat at NoMAD and hit up a drag brunch. 

These Yule Ball attendees BROUGHT IT with their looks!
At the very beginning of August, we'll be hosting our 7th annual Harry Potter birthday party. This year's theme is Hogwarts Goes Hawaiian, in which we use this one throwaway paragraph in Goblet of Fire as inspiration: "...Harry had no idea where Dumbledore went during the summer holidays. He amused himself for a moment, picturing Dumbledore, with his long silver beard, full-length wizard's robes, and pointed hat, stretched out on a beach somewhere, rubbing suntan lotion onto his long crooked nose.” Do his robes have have a tropical print on them? Is he wearing flip flops? If other teachers came, what would their attire be? We don't know, but I want to find out! 

In September, Eric and I will be taking a necessary trip to Orlando to do Walt Disney World and Universal. We may have a friend join us on all or part of that trip. We'll be enjoying EPCOT's Food and Wine Festival, the new Galaxy's Edge, Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, possibly Halloween Horror Nights, Butterbeer (obvs), Toothsome Chocolate Emporium, and so. much. walking. 

In October we'll be back to throwing our annual Halloween party, which will be decked out like Grimmauld Place, and then we'll transition Number 12 for Christmas, where I'm hoping people will come up with some cool ugly wizard sweaters/attire to celebrate my birthday. There will also be the 4th annual Yule Ball that I'll be going to. 

After this, we'll start getting ready for a trip to Iceland in 2021, because it's far beyond time we make it there. 

What are your goals (travel or otherwise) for this year? And if you have any creative ideas for Hawaiian Potter cosplays, I want to hear them in the comments!

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